A woman met someone on line who told her he lived in a gated community. Imagine her surprise when she discovered he meant he was incarcerated in a federal prison.

Another woman was charged with a traffic violation. She stated her occupation as school teacher. The judge rose from the bench and said, “Madam, I have waited years for a school teacher to appear before this court. Now sit at that table and write ‘I will not pass through a red light’ five hundred times.”

No judge is likely to hand out such a sentence, but penalties for serious crimes are at risk of being reduced to less than two years in a gated community. Why? Because Bill C-75 includes changes to the criminal code that could lessen the penalty for at least 27 crimes, crimes such as abduction of a minor, breach of prison, arson for fraudulent purposes, impaired driving causing bodily harm, and assault with a weapon.

The proposed changes could result in these crimes receiving less than a two year sentence, or as little as a monetary fine. The motivation behind these changes could be a quicker way to process court cases. But at the same time it could threaten public safety by allowing repeat offenders back on the street, while decreasing people’s confidence in the justice system.

One solution would be to appoint the number of judges needed to process all these crimes. There are vacancies all over our nation that need to be filled, even though there’s no shortage of qualified people to serve on the bench.

Meanwhile, rural Alberta RCMP have combined their efforts with volunteer community crime watch groups and Citizens on Patrol. This has resulted in 500 arrests and 1600 charges issued during a six month period.

This is certainly commendable, however their efforts are in vain if the charges for serious crimes result in only a fine, or if cases are repeatedly delayed until finally being thrown out of court. However, you and I can help by raising awareness of the proposed changes to Bill C-75.

A Member of Parliament for Niagara Falls offered this advice: “If you see a petition – sign it. Speak up and tell your MP you are concerned, and hopefully the government will back down.” He adds, “These changes are completely inconsistent with the best interests of Canadians. Lower sentences send the wrong message.”

As concerned citizens, we need to send the right message to our MP’s as they meet to discuss B C-75 this fall. Look at it this way – you get off easy. You don’t have to write out anything 500 times; you only need to write you MP one time, telling him or her about your concerns.

Our response could be compared to a grandfather who told his granddaughter that when his wife got mad at him, he would tighten the pickle jar lid so she would have to talk to him. And ordinary citizens writing their MP’s also forces the government to pay attention.

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